Inntown started things off. Here are a few terms that came to mind during their set: 'alt.country', 'slick', 'Ryan Adams', 'bar', 'sleeping in', 'washing basket', 'pancakes'... err, in other words they didn't really hold my attention, and I ended up thinking about what I was going to do the following day. They're that thing that many of us have seen before: the Brisbane alt.country band playing at The Troubadour. Yeah, they're good at that sound. If you like that sound you will most likely like them. It would seem that a lot of people DO like that sound. But for me, I found their songs to be a bit samey (despite them switching singers for a few songs). There weren't enough hooks for it to be successful pop music, but it wasn't emotive enough to get me to like it as alt.country. Maybe it's just me; I've never really gotten into Ryan Adams either, and this band was definitely mining that same vein of music.
They did play a cover of U2's 'Desire' though, which was cool.
The Bell Divers had the middle slot for the evening. As far as I can remember it was my first time seeing them, but some part of me thinks that I've seen them before. In any case, I thought that they were a definite step up from Inntown. Their tunes pulled me in to a much greater extent than the previous band's, and they seemed to have more of their own personality. The singer reminded me of a more nasal Paul Banks of Interpol (kind of halfway between Banks and The Gin Club's Brad Pickersgill), with the music being an at times atmospheric but always melodious and poppy kind of indie rock. I don't know, maybe kind of Go-Betweens-esque? Kind of maybe but not really?
Lastly came the headliners, the band that everyone had come to see (and I mean everyone, they sold the damn place out!), The John Steel Singers. In my previous review I had mentioned that sometimes the band can lack a bit of energy on stage. This was DEFINITELY not the case on this evening. Maybe it was the full house, maybe it was the sense of occasion, maybe they've just become a much more energetic band in recent months, but this show was by far the most energetic I'd seen them. Almost every song was drastically sped up from usual, and Tim and Scott's vocals were almost yelled at times (which is a pretty big deal when compared to their usual semi-crooning style, which works well on layered recordings but can come across a bit flat live).
The band started with a new song that was full of delayed guitars and washes of distortion - it was almost shoegaze, and showed that the band are still moving forwards (well, you'd hope they would be, as they've only just released their first EP). Combined with their final song (which I believe is called 'Poor Rich', and featured another fantastic chorus, with dueling horn parts and a pretty amazing chord progression to finish... probably the best JSS song yet), it showed that the best from the band is still to come. The set regulars were all delivered with an optimal mix of raw grit and tightness, and really, I think that it was pretty much the perfect John Steel Singers set.